Young and old; Republicans and Democrats sharply divided on brands commenting on Chauvin verdict

Hoang NguyenData Journalist
April 28, 2021, 12:00 PM UTC

In the wake of former police officer Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict over the murder of George Floyd, several major American companies have weighed in with views, including American Airlines, Apple, JPMorgan Chase, Target and Zoom.

Brands may feel increasingly under pressure to make public pronouncements on social issues today but what are consumers’ expectations? 
 
YouGov polled 1,500 US adults on whether it is appropriate for brands to voice an opinion on the outcome of the trial and Americans seem fairly split on the matter (43% thought it was appropriate vs. 46% inappropriate).  
 
But perceptions of statements about the Chauvin verdict differ enormously by key demographics. Younger Americans were significantly more likely to say it was appropriate for brands to comment on the decision, while older Americans were more likely to say it was inappropriate. Almost six in ten younger Americans (59% of 18-29-year-olds) were happy for brands to have their say, compared to just over a quarter (28%) of Americans 65 or older. This older group were more than twice as likely to say it was inappropriate for brands to do so than younger Americans (63% v 26%). 
 
There are also important distinctions by political affiliation. Democrats and Republicans are starkly at odds on the perception of the matter, with two-thirds of Democrats (68%) saying it is appropriate for brands to speak on the verdict and just 14% of Republicans saying the same. An overwhelming majority of Republicans say it is inappropriate for brands to do so (80%). Among Independents, perceptions of brands statements following the trial resemble those of the general public, with this group seemingly divided (39% to 44%) on the matter.

Further research into consumer views shows that brands should consider the potential benefits and risks before engaging in social and political issues. We asked Americans about their likelihood to buy from a brand – and similarly their likelihood to boycott one – if a brand holds an agreeable or disagreeable view compared to their own. 
 
Close to half (49%) of Americans indicate they’ll consider buying from a brand if they agree with the brand’s stance on social issues. But for a third of people who seem indifferent (33% neither agree nor disagree) and the 15% who disagree outright, it appears a brand’s values would have no impact towards increasing a consumer’s likelihood to purchase from a brand. 
 
There are some major risks involved for brands voicing an opinion over a social issue. If a consumer disagrees with a brand’s values or stance on a social issue, roughly two-thirds of Americans would boycott or stop buying from the brand (64%). This idea is felt most acutely among Americans aged 65 and over, with 74% of the age cohort saying they will boycott a brand if they disagree with its opinions.

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MethodologyYouGov polled 1,525 US adults aged 18 and over online on April 26, 2021, between 10:11am to 10:31am EST. The survey was carried out through YouGov Direct. Data is weighted by age, gender, education level, political affiliation, and ethnicity. Results are nationally representative of US adults and the margin of error for the poll is 3.7%. Learn more about YouGov Direct.